Tuesday, December 30, 2008

16. Rhymefest ft. Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror

I don't care what Michael Jackson does with the rest of his life. If he buys 30 minutes of primetime advertising place and uses it to sacrifice three children, four dogs, two cats, and Macaulay Culkin I will still conveniently ignore his atrocities and continue to say he's one of the five most talented people in the world. Seriously. I'm willing to overlook everything post-Scream (the song with Janet and the multi million dollar video). The only problem with that is that musically his output, minimal though it may be, has been consistently terrible for the past 15 years and it's almost as though the MJ died in a terrible Neverland Ranch llama attack in 1995.

When I put on this track by Chicago rapper and Kanye West pal Rhymefest though, it's like the King of Pop has returned from exile. I can say in all honesty that the material on the mixtape Mark Ronson Presents: Rhymefest Man in the Mirror on which this song appears is the best Jackson family output since 1992's Dangerous. Granted, all of this output is sampled work from Jackson's career, dating back to his work with the Jackson Five but Ronson and Rhymefest breathe new life into the tracks that you've heard a thousand times before, even using interviews with Jackson to form the basis for several skits, the hip hop version of the shitty prize in the bottom of the cereal box. Additional guests on the mixtape are of the highest quality as well as Ronson disciples Wale and Daniel Merriweather appear along with samples of Ghostface Killah and Talib Kweli

In the song Man in the Mirror, Rhymefest takes the same look in the mirror that Jackson takes in the song's source material; questioning his self esteem a la White Power Bill in Arrested Development ("Maybe the problem is I don't love me") and reflecting upon the problems plaguing the rap world. Maybe, as currently appears quite likely, Michael Jackson will never come anywhere close to doing justice to his immense talents again. As I suggested before, I'm cool with this and it should in no way tarnish his musical reputation but my fear is that his current weirdness will somehow eclipse his considerable achievements. Rhymefest's "Man in the Mirror" assuages that fear though as it will hopefully serve as an effective reminder of all that was once good and what could be good again* about the self appointed King of Pop.

*For those of you playing the top30orso drinking game, it's time to take a giant swig for, "Reference to Field of Dreams." Hopefully you remembered to take a drink in earlier posts for "Reference to failings with opposite sex"

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